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Ready for a “Ríon”-Carnation?

Ríon Hannora | Fashion Design | Dublin, Ireland

Empowering the alternative fashion scene in Ireland and abroad is Cork Cities Ríon Hannora. A breakthrough fashion designer, combining traditional methods of textile work with modern innovations to explore eco-friendly alternatives to fashion design by incorporating fabrics and materials that have already served their purpose. These fabrics are recycled and rejuvenated into bizarre and wonderful garments that could stand alone on display in a museum. Think of it as art that you can wear, that helps me get my head around her distinctive style.


Speaking of her style, imagine a lucid dream of colours, patterns and fabrics uniting in a harmonious garment only to be dawned by those willing to hold onto such power. Her bold decisions are on full display throughout her work. With Ríon’s distinctive approach to design, we can tell she’s an energetic and enthusiastic designer. Ríon decides to use hallucinating patterns and then combine contrasting colours on a muted colour base to emphasize the character found in her style (does it even need to be emphasized) which truly makes it an impossible task to not take a moment to process what your eyes are witnessing. Without a doubt, Ríon’s style and genius will leave a stamp on the fashion industry. We reached out to Ríon to further understand where these ideas come from along with an insight into the process and story of the designer. You can read her interview below!
“My name is Ríon Hannora O’ Donovan. I’m 25 and I’m from Cork City although I currently live in Dublin. I graduated with a BA in Fashion Design from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2019. My hobbies outside of being a designer consist of yoga, knitting,  making hummus, collecting Sylvanian Families and feeding the stray cat that lives in the bush behind my house. Very hard for me to pick my favourite type of music and favourite band but I do enjoy listening to my friends’ DJ mixes when working in my studio, or alternatively a good podcast. My favourite drink would probably be a Beamish or a nice IPA, depending on the day but my all-time favourite place to eat is Aobaba on Capel Street in Dublin (I would highly recommend the tofu Bánh Mi).”
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Behind the design.

What does being a designer mean to you? 

For me, being a designer means having the capacity to communicate feelings and sensations through an object, whilst also having a use for it. I think of fashion as an object, be it clothes, shoes, a uniform, or a wig. But fashion is also fashioning. Fashion is an object that satisfies two important senses in which we call something an object: object as a physical item and object as a performance.

What events led to becoming a fashion designer?

I guess, you could say it was a gradual progression. There was never a lightbulb moment or anything but I think I have always used clothing as a way to express myself. One of my earliest memories is the feeling of my pink velvet ‘party dress’ that had a tiny tulle frill at the bottom of it. I also used to get sent home from secondary school for not wearing my uniform correctly and had trouble at jobs that acquired certain dress codes. I feel as though it was only a matter of time before I started making my own clothes.

Where do you find inspiration?

At the moment my main point of inspiration is amateur graffiti done by kids and teenagers. One of my favourites is when I see a really badly drawn penis or some teens expressing their love for each other in the form of ‘M+P 4EVER’. I actually think it adds so much to a place. There’s this back road by my house that looks like a bunch of 14-year-olds got a hold of a few spray cans and did a Total-Makeover-penis-edition on it. Looks much better than the raw concrete that was there beforehand, so I think they did a great job. I wish I could hire them to spray paint my garments ha!

Who / what influences you? 

I take great influence from the Baroque Era. I love the pure excess of everything they did then, from their clothes to their houses to them getting painted portrait pictures done of their dogs.  I think that might be my first point of reference when I’m starting a new collection but I often find myself mostly influenced by my friends and the people I surround myself with. I don’t really believe anything is original. We’re all just products of our surroundings so it makes total sense if you see bits of people I know throughout my collections.

I get asked to do commissions quite regularly also, which I see as mini collaborations. I love the challenge of someone coming to me with an idea which I then go away and create. Things like this often inspire me and influence my practice as I’m forced to go outside of my comfort zone and more often than not surprise myself with what I produce.

What do you aim for your audience to feel when viewing your work? 

I love making people feel cute but also super powerful when wearing my pieces. A lot of my garments are adjustable at the shoulder and the back so that you can tie it to your own body. I’m not 100% there yet with body inclusivity but I like to think that I’m getting there! When wearing a corset (which is the main character in most of my collections), it sort of holds you in place and also forces you to have good posture. A customer told me recently that her custom corset actually really helps with her anxiety and that it has the same effect as a weighted blanket, that it makes her feel held and secure when she’s in not-so-comfortable situations. Being able to give someone the chance to feel amazing and powerful in their clothes gives me such a pure sense of satisfaction.

Plans for the future? 

I’m currently working towards my new collection that will be released sometime in the autumn. I held an event with Dublin Modular in Pallas Studios as part of Dublin Pride last month where I covered the walls in cotton canvas and left out all my spray paints. Everyone who attended the event was able to make their own mark on the canvas wall while listening and dancing to music provided by Dublin Modular. By the end of the party, the canvas wall was so covered that the original colour of it wasn’t to be seen. I’m currently using this huge roll of fabric to create my upcoming collection. I’m seeing it as a huge community collaboration with everyone who attended that night! It stemmed from the idea of there being no such thing as an original thought that I touched on earlier. Hopefully i,t will inspire a sense of community.

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